They Got the Metric System Over There…

July 18, 2008 at 6:38 am | Posted in food | 13 Comments
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No time these days for a serious blog post, but I was wondering what the blogosphere thought about this article in the NYTimes about how hamburgers are taking over Paris.  Is it true?  Have you seen this trend in action?  Or was this merely a slow news day?

For my part, it strikes me as slightly sad.  There are so many things I love about France, and so many things I love about America, but I have generally found that we don’t do each other’s things very well.  I felt a sort of pang when I read that French chefs were annoyed with French diners for refusing to eat with their hands.  Eating burgers with a knife and fork typifies everything I love about the French — the staunch, Gallic self-confidence that suggests, “We will take on your culture, but we will modify it to suit our own needs and prejudices.”

I don’t know, I suppose I’m being a bit patronizing.  If the French want to experiment with American food, eh bien, qu’ils mangent des burgers. Who am I to wish them back into some perceived fantasy of authentic Frenchness?  Just as long as American eateries don’t develop a sudden fad for steak tartare…  given our current food safety issues, that could hardly end well.

hamburger?

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Promenade

July 9, 2008 at 1:42 am | Posted in art | Comments Off on Promenade
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There is a moment upon entering the recent Monumenta exhibit at the Grand Palais during which it’s hard not say, “This is it?”  Standing by the front door, I heard a number of people express the sentiment, and I admit I thought it myself.

After all, this was a hugely hyped exhibit of one of the most renowned sculptors of our era — but when you walk in, all you see is five giant, apparently identical slabs of steel, lined up in a monotonous row.

Appearances, though, can be deceiving.

As an artist, Richard Serra can be strikingly austere, even by minimalist standards.  But he is also frequently playful and contrary in his works (see the to-do about his 1981 piece, Tilted Arc), and so I believe this initial shock and disappointment was exactly what he intended.  It is in the wake of this disappointment, however, that a true appreciation of Promenade begins to take form — because as you walk around and through the five monoliths, you’re bound to uncover the subtle beauty in the rhythm and off-kilter balance of their relationship.

I doubt my photos do any justice to the experience, but for what it’s worth, here is a taste of Promenade:

Promenade

Promenade

Promenade

And as always, more here.

Note: this post is horribly outdated, and the exhibit itself is long since closed, but that might actually be a good thing.  Based on the images originally used to promote the event, I think the curators wanted people to be surprised by the actual sculptural content when they entered the hall.  I can see why they would — this piece simply wouldn’t be the same if you knew what was coming.  So I was wondering for a while if it would be wrong of me to share my photos with people who might conceivably go to the exhibit, but…  too late!  You missed it, so enjoy.

Happy 4th!

July 5, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Posted in food, spectacle | 6 Comments
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I’m generally opposed to taking photos of fireworks, because no photo will ever even approach how beautiful real fireworks are — most photographic depictions wind up looking like so many celestial koosh balls. So why bother watching them through a camera instead of enjoying them first hand?

But hey, the display I was watching was really long, and I figured one hasty snap wouldn’t ruin my enjoyment all that much. Especially since, as you can tell, I didn’t even bother to hold my hand steady:

Fireworks

So instead of koosh balls, my fireworks look like fibre-optic cables.

I never really experienced July 4th as a kid, because I spent all my summers in Paris, celebrating le quatorze. But the holiday has grown on my in my adulthood. How can I resist any celebration that encourages mass consumption of blinky-sparkly things?

Flashy Things

And hey, it wouldn’t be an American holiday without a little gluttony:

Clam Belly Roll

Fried and fried! This delicious clam belly roll was purchased right on the beach at my favorite Rhode Island clam shack:

Iggy's!

That friendly guy is an anthropomorphized doughboy. Because faux-cannibalism makes everything taste sweeter. Happy Independence Day!

Le Pre Verre

July 2, 2008 at 1:12 am | Posted in food | 2 Comments
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Nothing like a hot American summer — all coffee coolattas and dq blizzards — to make you yearn for the more refined palate across the ocean.  Looking through my photo stream, I felt a pang of nostalgia for my last meal at Le Pre Verre. What I really love about this restaurant is the way all the flavors are a little unexpected — when you first see them on the menu, it’s hard not to wonder, “will that really be any good?” But once you taste the food, you realize that nothing here is weird for weirdness’s sake. Every dish has been carefully thought out and arranged, and instead of thinking, “how bizarre!” you wind up saying, “why didn’t I think of that?”

Shrimp and pea "guacamole"

Shrimp scampi with an perfectly light green pea “guacamole”.

Lamb

Tagine of lamb with beet relish.

Strawberries

Marinated strawberries with parsley ice cream, and many more, as always…

But don’t feel too bad for me, missing out on all this fine cuisine — America has its own unique culinary pleasures, and I am making happy re-acquaintance with them:

First corn!

Thick steaks, buttery corn on the cob, and a PBR to wash it down… life could be worse.

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